What to Know
- Ballenie and Bellanie Camacho were born attached at the lower back; they also shared a branch of one artery
- More than 50 medical professionals were involved in the effort to separate them successfully in January 2017
- A year and a half later, their checkup shows they are on target
Eighteen months after conjoined twins Ballenie and Bellanie were separated in a grueling 22-hour surgery at a Westchester hospital, the toddlers continue to be little miracles.
The twin girls, who'd shared part of their spinal column and some major arteries until the January 2017 surgery, were back at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital Friday for a checkup -- and by all accounts, they're on target.
"We feel so grateful with the hospital and with God because the girls are good and healthy, and we are very happy and grateful," said their mother, Laurilin Celadilla.
Celadilla didn't know the twins were conjoined until she gave birth in their native Dominican Republic, where the family says doctors could do nothing to help them. A friend connected them to Maria Fareri Children's Hospital, and six months later, they left their jobs and their home and came to New York for the surgery they prayed would give their daughters a normal life.
"It's a blessing, it's a miracle," said Celadilla.
Almost 2 and a half years old now, Ballenie is talking, walking and running. Bellanie, the smaller of the two, is overcoming some limitations.
"Mobility-wise, she has autism but is able to speak some words," an interpreter said at the hospital. "There is progress with her as well."
Pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Tobias said, "They both still have some challenges as is with conjoined twins but we're really happy to see them both doing better."
The surgery was a first at Maria Fareri, where a team of 50 medical professionals worked to separate the girls. Their mother and father thanked that team Friday, saying that without them, "it wouldn't have been possible."
"I hope whoever sees our story sees that there is hope, there are institutions in the world that can provide help to a family like us, or any family, a brighter future," they said in Spanish.